Mugs, Mugs, and more Mugs
Anybody who has been in my house knows I love mugs- I have far more mugs than I can ever possibly use. I think I could use a different mug each day for 2 months before I’d need to repeat. In reality, I typically use the same 3-4 mugs. I use a mug I bought at M&M Orlando for my morning coffee, a “Best Aunt Ever” mug (that my nephew gave me 2 days after his birth) for my coffee during the day, and an “Acadia Alumni” mug in the evening. Each of these three mugs represents different, but incredibly important, things in my life. My M&Ms mug is a connection to my Manitoba life (despite being bought in Orlando, there is a story there). My aunt mug naturally reminds me of my favourite tiny humans and the gift they are to my family. And my Acadia mug is a tie to one of the most transformative places and periods in my life.
So why 60+ mugs? They all tell stories about my life, who I am, and what matters to me. I won’t go into each them, but they tell stories. I like when I would invite people over, I could give them a mug that might be a connection for something or be a conversation starter. I have a couple of Winnipeg Jets mugs, which for hockey fans will start a conversation one way or another. I have a mug from Pier 21 in Halifax (The first point of entry from 1928-1971 for immigrants), which starts conversations about my family and our immigration story and hearing other people’s stories. I have a mug that is a painting of Rembrandts “Night Watch”, which brings up conversation of travel and art history. I have mugs from each of my three university alma maters, which of course starts conversation about school, studies, and three of the provinces I have lived in. I have a couple of cat mugs and of course that starts a conversation over pets. I have another mug from New Zealand which starts a plethora of conversations. I even have monogrammed mugs, of letters that are not in my name, purchased as an act of hospitality for people who were regular visitors at my house. I wanted them to feel welcome so I made sure they had their own personal mug they could use.
Each mug I own has been carefully chosen and each mug tells a story about me and starts a conversation to hear the stories about others. In our Hot Potato group, questions have been asked about “how do we talk about our faith in a world that may not be as open to it?”. It’s no secret that people of faith often become a bit hesitant to talk about faith. We don’t want to become those people who make others feel uncomfortable by talking about faith, but we also need to be people who are comfortable telling people about our faith. There’s been a lot of conversation about faith and the Supreme Court in the US, with one side asking how someone’s faith may impact judicial decisions and another side responding that faith is under attack. We need to be people of faith, and as a “reformed Christian” I do believe that my faith should be displayed in my actions (to quote a hymn “they’ll know we are Christians by our love”). However, I also know that I need to respect the “separation of church and state”. It definitely becomes a muddy area, but we can be Christians, work in a secular life, and talk to people about our faith in comfortable and “non-threatening” manners that respect people’s space.
So why the mugs? They are a tool I’ve used to engage my faith with people who may not be church goers. When I invite someone over, I am intentional about the mug I use for them. I may use a Winnipeg Jets “White Out” mug and tell the story of how the playoffs became an integral role in my ministry. I may use a mug that says, “Cat People Rule” and share the story of how a family in a previous call gave me that, despite their belief that Dog People Rule. Or I’ll use one of my alma mater mugs and talk about my experiences in seminary. I have a mug from White River that I bought on my drive from Winnipeg to London and I may share stories from that drive and how my driving companion and I relied on God’s protection. These are subtle ways that allow space for faith conversations without making it awkward or uncomfortable. I am free to be, unapologetically me, without someone being uncomfortable. I am sharing my faith, sharing how God has worked in my life, without putting someone on the spot. And it’s something I can still do over zoom- I intentionally use different mugs depending who I’m with on zoom as a tool for storytelling and faith-sharing
Think about things in your life that share your story and use them to your advantage to share stories about God’s presence in your life. Use your natural life to tell people about your faith and invite them in.
Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll look at other ways you can use the narrative of storytelling to help tell people about your faith, without making it awkward.